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Migrants attempting to cross in to the U.S. from Mexico are detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Photo: Nick Ut/Getty Images

Border patrol made nearly 1.7 million arrests of immigrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2021 — the highest number on record, according to new agency data released on Friday.

Why it matters: Unauthorized crossings are beginning to decline, but still remain far above the usual numbers this time of year. The administration is also tracking other large groups of migrants headed toward the U.S.

Between the lines: Overwhelmed border and migrant care resources have plagued the Biden administration since February. The president has taken heat from both sides of the aisle — for both ending some harsh Trump-era policies, while continuing others.

  • The use of a public health order known as Title 42 has contributed to the high numbers, with migrants often attempting to cross multiple times after being promptly returned to Mexico under the policy.
  • There were more than 1 million expulsions of migrants under Title 42 for the fiscal year.
  • Title 42 was also used for just more than half of encounters with migrants last month, and about a quarter of migrants had attempted to cross at least one other time in the past year, according to Customs and Border Protection.

By the numbers: Border officials made more than 1.7 million encounters with people attempting to cross the border between October 1, 2020 and the end of September, according to the data.

  • 1.1 million encounters were with single migrant adults.
  • Almost 480,000 were with members of migrant families.
  • 147,000 were with unaccompanied minors. Both the number of families and the number of kids encountered by border officials dropped in September from August. But there were still at least three times as many as in recent Septembers.

Surges in past years have been driven by migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

  • While the Northern Triangle and Mexico remain key regions of origin for U.S.-headed migrants, there's been a notable rise in migrants from further nations, as well — Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela and Brazil, for example.
  • About 36% of migrants who attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border last month were from nations other than Mexico and the Northern Triangle.

What to watch: Following court orders, the administration is expected to reimplement the Trump-era "Remain in Mexico" program next month, which forced asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their immigration court hearings, held in tent-like facilities.

Go deeper

Nov 25, 2021 - World

At least 27 dead after migrant boat capsizes in English Channel

Protesters campaigning for migrants' rights rally in Calais, northern France, on Wednesday night following the sinking of a migrant boat crossing the English Channel. Photo: Francois Lo Presti/AFP via Getty Images

The British and French governments have pledged to increase joint efforts to stop migrant crossings after at least 27 migrants died when their U.K.-bound inflatable boat capsized in the English Channel Wednesday, per Euronews.

The big picture: French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin told reporters five women and a girl were among the dead in what's one of the worst migrant boat tragedies to occur on the busy shipping route between the U.K. and France. Four people were missing, presumed drowned.

Storms pummel flood-hit Pacific Northwest as border river overflows

An image of the water-logged Sumas Prairie area taken last Friday. Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation/Twitter.

The latest ferocious storm system to hit the Pacific Northwest triggered fresh evacuation orders and at least one mudslide in flood-ravaged British Columbia, Canada, late Sunday.

Threat level: Flood sirens sounded in Washington state as the Nooksack River overflowed. Henry Braun, mayor of Abbotsford, B.C., told reporters the water flow was headed toward the Canadian border city later Sunday. "There's nothing to stop it," he said.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.